The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has advised the Minister of Power, Mr Babatunde Fashola, to ensure regulatory authorities were not allowed to get away with the 45 percent increase in electricity tariff by promoting compliance with the November 2013 ruling on the matter by two UN special rapporteurs.
SERAP’s declaration followed a nationwide protest, Monday, by Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and Trade Union Congress, TUC, against the increase in electricity tariff, demanding an immediate reversal of the hike.
In a statement issued, yesterday, by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, SERAP said: “Nigeria is an important member of the UN and have voluntarily accepted its charter and treaties. Therefore, any effort to increase electricity tariff should be guided by the recommendations by the UN and dialogue with organised labour and other stakeholders.
“The United Nations published the Joint Letter of Concern sent to the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan in which they expressed concerns that ‘access to electricity (and regularity of supply) is a significant problem in Nigeria,’ and raised eight questions for the government to answer within 60 days,” SERAP noted.
The letter with reference, NGA 5/2013 and dated November 26, 2013, and signed by two special rapporteurs, expressed concerns that “at the end of 2012, Nigeria with a population of about 160 million people only generated about 4,000 megawatts of electricity, which is 10 times less than some other countries in the region with less population.”
The UN special rapporteurs argued that “all beneficiaries of the right to adequate housing should have sustainable access to energy for cooking, heating and lighting. The failure of states to provide basic services such as electricity is a violation of the right to health.”
The rapporteurs, Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights and Raquel Rolnik, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, sent the letter following a petition lodged last year by a coalition of human rights activists, labour, journalists and lawyers, led by SERAP. The petition alleged that increase in electricity tariff would “have detrimental impact on the human rights of those living in poverty in the country.”
Other signatories to the petition sent to the special rapporteurs in September 2013 are: the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE); Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ); Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center (WARDC); Women Empowerment and Legal Aid Initiative (WELA); Partnership for Justice (PJ); Education Rights Campaign (ERC); Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Lagos State Council; Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Lagos; Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Ikeja branch; National Union of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE), and Joint Action Front (JAF).